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John Coltrane 91 Years Later: A Celebration in Philadelphia and on WRTI 90.1

John Coltrane in 1963

It's hard to believe, but September 23rd marks 91 years since the birth of John Coltrane, who left us way too soon in 1967 at age 40; that makes 50 years since his passing. So it's a good time, we think, to gather together and remember one of Philadelphia’s favorite former residents.

Philadelphia's jazz community and WRTI 90.1 will honor the life and legacy of John Coltrane with events and special programming between September 18th and the 24th.

WRTI 90.1 will feature the audio documentary Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone, produced by former Philadelphian and award-winning radio producer Steve Rowland, airing September 20th through the 24th from 8 until 9 pm.

Check out this colossal series featuring powerful interviews, poignant commentary and provocative poetry by a broad cross-section of artists, writers, historians and thinkers including Sonny Rollins, Gary Bartz, Sun Ra, Odean Pope, Byard Lancaster, McCoy Tyner, and many others.

When you tune in throughout the week, be sure to keep an ear out for some Trane Stopsmessages from jazz artists about the indelible imprint John Coltrane has left on America’s music. They’ll be featured during regular hours. We’ll play plenty of Coltrane’s music, too!

Here are some highlights of events taking place throughout the city:

Tenor Madness: Featuring Sam Reed

Wednesday, September 20th at 7 PM

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts

Veteran saxophonist Sam Reed leads an ensemble known to feature the area’s leading saxophonists. The name Tenor Madness is a tribute to the 1956 Sonny Rollins recording on which he featured John Coltrane.

Chasing Trane Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Friday, September 22nd at 7 PM

Hatfield House

3300 Girard Avenue, Philadelphia

If you missed Chasing Trane when it was in the theaters, this is your chance to catch this passionate and though-provoking examination of Coltrane’s journey. Immediately following the film, WRTI’s J. Michael Harrison will moderate a panel discussion between notable musicians, friends and fans of Coltrane, including some familiar faces from the film.

Jazz Walk—Vigil

Saturday, September 23rd at 4 PM

Mander Recreation Center, Fairmount Park (33rd and Diamond streets)

Take a stroll from the recreation center to the historic Hatfield House at 33rd and Girard Avenue to honor Coltrane on the day of his birth. In the second-line tradition of West Africa and New Orleans, the route will be scattered with saxophone ensembles who will share musical tributes to Coltrane and join in the stroll.  The event closes with a concert by the Odean Pope Quartet at the Hatfield House.

Full schedule of free events can be found here.